Friday, February 19, 2010

Once a hideaway for concubines in Ipoh

Ipoh's old quarter has two lanes with a colourful past. In the 1950's, when the setlement's tin-mining towkays were rolling in wealth, many of them kept concubines. The women were housed in well-furnished shophouses along two lanes that linked the present Jalan Bijih Timah and Jalan Bandar Timah. Aptly named First Concubine Lane (see pix) and Second Concubine Lane, they once bustled with rickshaws, hawkers and triad activity. First Concubine Lane faces the Kedai Kopi Kong Heng on Jalan Bijih Timah; Second Concubine Lane runs parallel to the former. Thus, a man may have a tryst with his first mistress early in the evening and then later proceed for a second rendezvous with his second concubine on the next lane. Adding colour and spice to the lanes were a few brothels and gambling dens. Today, both lanes are a picture of rot and decay. Clothes hang overhead from bamboo poles to dry; birds in cages chirp lonely tunes. How sad... When you are in Ipoh, why not stroll along First Concubine Lane to capture its ambiance of yesteryears; in your mind's eyes see the sexy women in cheongsum eagerly waiting for their lovers. Yes, those were the days...


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